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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


My mother now lives in the downstairs memory care section of the home where my Nana spent the last three years of her life. When Nana was upstairs in the assisted living residential area, one of my former CBS, Community Bible Study, teacher colleagues moved not far down the hall. Kyoko acknowledged me when I’d hug her and said hello then, but she didn’t chat much if I stopped by. She always had a warm smile and responded politely and respectfully. She still had a sweet-nature and was soft-spoken. I think sometimes she remembered me, and sometimes she simply didn’t.

After Nana went home to heaven, I only revisited the home a couple of times. I intended to go back and check on Kyoko, but the demands of daily life and the out-of-town commute soon ebbed away at my best intentions.

When my mom went to live there a year ago, Kyoko had transferred downstairs and was my mother’s next-door neighbor for the first few months before mom got her own permanent room. Most of the memory care residents spend their time in the large community room connected to the dining area.

My mom doesn’t know me or any of my sisters anymore. Shannon, my second youngest sister and mom’s former caregiver, visits mom daily and feeds her one meal, usually dinner on the weekdays on her way home from work, and lunch on the weekends. Kyoko is always there too. Most of my six sisters have come to know her and her gentle ways. She likes to be close to my mother, and she’ll point you to the chair next to mom and bow until you take it.

Many days when I make the commute to visit my mom is sound asleep when I arrive and she’ll doze for hours. It is such a disappointment for me not to catch her awake and alert. She still shows a flicker of a second of recognition, a smile flashes across her sweet face and then she’ll grab for my hand. But when slumbering, mom sleeps deeply. Kyoko is usually sitting on the nearby sofa and she’ll get up, walk over to me and it almost seems like she wants to speak specifically, as a comforting gesture like she can sense the depth of my heartache.

Back when we served together at CBS, we were both core leaders of groups with about fifteen women. One year I was also the secretary and another year I was the Prayer Chairman so our time was interwoven in a variety of additional ways. Kyoko T. was dearly loved by her ladies. She knew God’s word intimately and she lived the grace and beauty of the Lord in every aspect of her petite being. We used to sing together in the leadership meeting circle these beautiful songs of praise and worship and sisterhood. Sometimes we sat next to each other and raised our quiet voices in harmony with fellow CBS sisters gifted with lovely songbird perfectly pitched, and choir worthy cadence.

We also prayed together. That was my closest connection with this humble woman. We shared prayer requests and praises both within the leadership circle and outside of it. She knew all of my sisters names and my mother’s name, Mary. How faithful Kyoko was to remember to ask me about my family, my children, and my husband after a season of intercession.

She shared about her home and the longings in her soul. Those were precious days of special friendship within a circle of women that you often only experience once in a lifetime.

I eventually moved out-of-town and sent Christmas cards which eventually dwindled down over the next decade.

Kyoko’s tender heart remains despite the loss of the memories of herself, her childhood, her family, her country, me and all her other CBS sisters. A loving Father placed her in her current home where she unknowingly continues to be a blessing to my mother and all those around her. I watch the gentlemen and ladies respond to her meek compliance and kindnesses. Her outer image is much altered, but her inner-Christ light shines with a brilliance like a star illuminating a night sky.

I often sing to my mom if she is awake or to Kyoko if my mom is sleeping. Kyoko and I used to hold hands when we sang The Servant Song together in our CBS days. The lyrics hold a much deeper meaning to me now than almost twenty years ago. Kyoko remains a servant-hearted handmaiden of the Lord right where she is. There is hope where there is love.

 

 

 

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This summer I’ve been thinking about the people who have influenced my life. I’m half a century old, born in the mid-nineteen fifties. It’s not that I possess any special wisdom or am of the opinion that my life is of such great significance that you should listen to my words. Many times though, I’ve been keenly aware of quiet blessings. I would like to share one with you.

As a military wife for most of my husband’s twenty year service in the United States Air Force, people and circumstances crossed my path that I otherwise never would have met. The littlest warriors during times of war are the children. The ones who do not understand why their parents are sent to far away, unfamiliar locations, some never to return.

We lived in off base, Capehart Military Housing at McClellan AFB, during the first Gulf War. All our neighbors sent loved ones ~  fathers, mothers, brother, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren, to different middle eastern countries to fight in the war. My four children were no different. Their dad was deployed to Saudi Arabia and traveled to other counties during that time. And if someone had told me then that my oldest son would later grow up to fight in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and leave his three daughters behind, I most likely would not have believed them.

I learned about true courage from these young people. Many times I overheard conversations while walking my children to school, volunteering in the classrooms, and when friends congregated at our home. Children are open, honest people until they learn to be otherwise. The tenderness of their hurting hearts and questioning souls are bared in innocence and trust to each other, and to adults they seek answers from to make sense of what makes no sense to them.

At the elementary school attended by most McClellan AFB Gulf War soldiers’ children, there was a garden planted and nurtured by the students. Yellow ribbons were tied throughout to remember the absent warriors. At first it was a great encouragement, then a trial as other classmates got to take their bows down upon the safe return to the states of their beloved. Many ribbons continued to flap, weathered and frayed, through the change of a season. To look into the eyes of a child who visited that garden was an unforgettable experience. The wide-eyed wonder present at the ribbon ceremony had long since been replaced with an aged wisdom exceeding their years of life. Even if the relative they’d tied the ribbon for had returned, many came home forever altered, both physically and mentally. These realities were etched in the children’s haunted expressions that pierced me to the core of my being. But it was their words of hope and embraces of love that imprinted my soul.

“Don’t worry daddy, I still love you.”

I can still hear the quiet voice of a first grade girl as she wrapped her arms around her kneeling father and listened to him weep. The deeper his knees sank into the forgiving earth, the stronger her embrace grew. She never let go until he was able to compose himself and she helped him to stand.  I later learned though he made it home, several of his band of brothers hadn’t.

That day, his daughter was his hero. Together they untied one yellow ribbon, he slipped it in his pocket, and they walked home holding hands.

I don’t believe either of them ever saw or noticed me at the far end of the garden. I pray I never forget the gift of being in that background.

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I saw this question while on my Pinterest break in my writing work day today.

I love to watch the stars from my hammock in the backyard. One year when I was ill, I mapped the airplane flight patterns when I rested on my hammock and prayed for my neighbors late into the summer nights.

God brought healing into my heart, body, and soul during that season of prayer. I don’t know what He did for the people I interceded for, but I know he heard and answered every utterance.

Praying for others when faced with mounting trials of your own helps take the focus off yourself and tenderizes a deep place you might otherwise guard and protect. Every inch surrendered for Kingdom purposes grows miles in a God direction.

I don’t know about you, but my daily prayer request list is growing to the point I could live on my knees everyday. The world is crying out in pain and sickness, loss and bewilderment. Fellow believers are facing testing at an accelerated level. And the burden on my heart awakens me in the middle of the night.

The weather has been cool enough that I can venture outside under the stars and pray until the leading of the Holy Spirit lifts. The earth is quiet and calm. At least it is in my backyard. The brightness of those millions and millions of heavenly beacons, light up the darkest of skies.

I am in awe under that endless sea above me, but a speck in all creation. God’s still, small voice is clear. Come to Me in prayer. I am waiting for you.

Almost daily I learn someone has lost a loved one to disease or an unexpected tragedy, or has lost their job, their house, and their hope. I think it is pretty much the same worldwide at an increasing rate.

Lately I’ve been thinking about something my teaching director at Community Bible Study said decades ago. “Weigh whatever it is by this one measure ~ What is the eternal value?”

It is that simple.

My priorities are easy to balance under a starry night.

During the course of the day I am distracted by honorable things, work ~ I love to write.  I like to clean my home, water my plants, walk my dogs, swim laps in a pool, do volunteer work, go to church…

To pray without ceasing, to weigh the eternal value, wishing upon a star is not time wisely spent for me. But to pray to the One who created the stars, to Praise Him in the beauty of His holiness, to make the time he gives me a gift I give back to Him ~ lets the speck of light within me break through surrounding darkness.

How brilliant the starry specks must light up the earth when the Creator gazes down from the heavenly stars to breathe in the incense of our prayers.

* Quote from Karen Burrell of the Sacramento Community Bible Study* Late 1990’s.

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Betty Ruth Weatherby's Book Launch

Today I had the privilege to sit with a fellow author and friend during her book launch for the third book in her WWII historical trilogy ~ Shingi, The Wind Blows Free. It was a refreshing switch from our usual all work, writing meetings.
Betty Ruth Weatherby has been with Amador Fiction Writer’s Critique Group for four of our five years. In that time frame she has published five children’s books, and three adult novellas.
Betty Ruth joined AFWCG as she neared retirement of her elementary school teaching career. Though she’d never been in a critique group before, she caught on fast and started working on fellow group members’ manuscripts with commitment and passion. And she’s a stickler for research; checking library resources, and interviewing WWII veterans.
(We use the, Suggested Format for Critiquing, for fiction. Every two weeks we hand out a hard copy to take home and read, reread, and critique.)
Betty’s daughter, Colleen Nestroyl, is the illustrator for all her children’s books. Colleen writes and illustrates her own children’s books, and she is the illustrator for another AFWCG author, Jo Sarti.
From 11 am to 3 pm today Betty, Jo, and I sat together during the All Art’s Show at Clark’s Corner in Ione where we regularly meet for our critique sessions. The third Saturday of every month Clark’s hosts an arts & crafts, mercantile type of indoor faire that draws people all the way from the capital city of Sacramento, and beyond. Clark’s is the local community hub/coffee-house/cafe/weekly Story Time Hour for children/musician’s stage/entertainment events showplace, and literary home for our group.

Today Betty’s book table was set up on the platform corner stage so she could chat with any customers that wanted to sit with an author and ask questions, and of course buy books she personalized for them. Normally a book launch at Clark’s is a separate event unto itself, but Betty prefers the ambiance the All Arts Show offers and the variety of people it brings through Clark’s welcoming doors. Today’s visitors included out-of-towners lunching after the Ione Historic Preston Castle tours, and cyclist enthusiasts seeking nourishment and refueling on their ride through our quaint three-block town. They all found their way to Betty’s book table along with a regular following of her readers eager for the new book. I think the highlight today was a young mother who shared about her nine-year-old daughter who is already writing and illustrating stories. Betty gave her business card to the appreciative woman and offered to help the youngster in the writing process. Don’t you love teachers!

Shingi, The Wind Blows Free is a standalone book but if you’ve already read the first two stories set during World War II in Africa, this book  brings a finality to the story of three women united in faith, then divided  across two continents by the atrocities of war. Not wanting to give too much away to new fans, I’ll simply state the women struggle with illness, the murder of loved ones, fears and doubts testing their individual faith in God, and challenges to sail to America from war-torn Africa. For protagonist Shingi, a young African woman who accompanies widowed missionary Mary Lanover on the Mercy ship voyage, unexpected and unthinkable circumstances befall her every step in this strange new country.

Betty has woven a fictional take on Biblical scriptures about a remnant of the Hebrew people unable to follow Moses’ exodus from Egypt. They flee westward and after eluding treachery and enduring hardship, settle in West Africa. Among the treasured remembrances they carried with them was a star sapphire amulet, which becomes revered as a totem by later generations and eventually finds its way into the hands of the missionary’s daughter, Charlotte, and her friend, Shingi.

Betty weaves her own missionary experiences in Africa into her stories. She has a B. A. degree from California State University Stanislaus. She earned her Teacher’s Credential from Chapman University, and Cross Cultural Language and Academic Development Certificate from The California State University Sacramento. Betty continues serving on evangelical international missions and is an active member of her church in the Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California.

She constructively critiques my manuscript along with several others and has faithfully stayed through the growing pains of our flourishing rural county gathering of writers aspiring to become authors. Gifted with an imaginative mind and an avid love for reading and writing, Betty gives so much more than she receives. You will be blessed to read and share either her delightful children’s tales of Pepper the Yorkie’s travels here in rural America, or on vacations to national monuments and state parks, and these descriptive novellas rich in history with a hint of romance.

Betty’s faith guides her daily walk with the Lord, and with her fellow sojourners traveling the narrow road to home. There is room on the dusty path to join her along the way. She’d be happy to listen to your story and share her own.

Betty’s books are available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CrossBooks Publishing ~a Division of Lifeway, Lulu Press, Inc. and Create Space. Shingi/ISBN: 978-1-6427-2555-7 (sc) and ebook/ISBN:978-1-4627-2556-4 (e)

You can find Betty Ruth Weatherby on Facebook

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Gentlemen visitors ~ Stoney, and retired USAF veteran Joe.

 

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Tossed back and forth, riding relentless waves,

Confused by addictions that viciously enslave,

Captured and held captive by illusions in your mind,

Searching for answers you can’t seem to find.

Locked in a world that’s turned in-side-out,

Frozen by fear and clouded by doubt,

Deceived by subtle lies through the years,

Left all alone to taste bitter tears.

The quiet engulfs the breath of each day,

You struggle to keep your demons at bay,

Dreams dies a slow death a long time ago,

Your heart came up empty with nothing to show.

Beloved overcomer, do not give up hope,

Reach for the lifeline, the Fisherman’s rope,

It touches the bottom of the deepest of seas,

To pull those drowning, who long to be free.

Listen intently, He’s calling your name,

It was for you, His child, he originally came,

You are precious and cherished by He,

The Fisherman who casts His nets into the sea.

Look to the clear blue skies up above,

Let Him forgive you and give you His love.

© Kathy Boyd Fellure

Requested by a dearly loved fellow, Sacramento Christian Writer, member. Critiqued and edited by SCW’s, Gerry Weiland, Clara Boyd, Arlet Vollers, and Lila Fraser. Dedicated to godly gathering of humble ladies that welcomed me with open arms and hearts when I stumbled into my writing life.

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